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summer squash soup

I find it funny now — what with my obvious fascination with stirring up soups aplenty — that a couple years ago I didn’t care for them at all. Everything about the taste of vegetables boiled in flavored water until their structures compromised made my stomach turn and to this day, even the liveliest minestrone invokes a bad memory of flavor-sapped herbs and formless noodles. Even those that came close to passing muster were so laden with salt, I’d find myself aching for a glass of water after a bowl of something that was supposed to be soothing.

I think the turning point came with the Cuisinart Immersion Blender gift from our wedding registry. Nobody better describes my affection for it than Julie Powell: “Have I mentioned to you that I love love love my handy-dandy cuisinart wand? I love it the way other women love their vibrators.”

In one minute flat, it converts everything in the pot into a velvety consommé, bridging the disparity between ingredients (“No! I don’t want to hang out with the icky squash!” whines the orange-fleshed potato) like a mother insisting her children play nicely together. No more alarming boiled vegetable flavor, no more awkward, thin spaces between ingredients, with each spoonful the same as the last, I find these soups contemplative; a calm brought on by the knowledge that every spoonful will taste the same as the one before.

The pistou, which I was as skeptical of as I had been of the lettuce pesto, really brightened up the fall flavor and color with some spring, kind of like eating an orange soup on an 80-degree September day.

To also note, with two carrots, a sweet potato and onions cooked in butter, this soup lends itself towards the sweet side of the palate and I seasoned it a lot more than the recipe suggests to balance it. I also threw an extra scallion in the pistou to brighten it up. Finally, but not intentionally, I (ahem) browned the butter before sautéing the onions but you know what? That nutty taste was awesome, and stayed with the soup ’til the end. Dreamy, indeed.

summer squash soup

Summer-Squash Soup with Parsley-Mint Pistou*
Adapted from Gourmet, September 2006

Serves 8

For squash soup
3/4 stick (6 tablespoons) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1 medium onion, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced crosswise
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 lb yellow summer squash, halved and thinly sliced
2 carrots, thinly sliced
1 yellow-fleshed potato (1/2 pound), peeled, halved, and thinly sliced
4 cups chicken stock or reduced-sodium chicken broth

For pistou**
3/4 cup loosely packed fresh mint leaves
1/2 cup loosely packed fresh flat-leaf parsley sprigs
1 large scallion, chopped (1/2 cup)
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons water
1/4 teaspoon salt

Make soup: Melt butter in a 6- to 8-quart wide heavy pot over moderate heat, then cook onion with salt, stirring, until softened, about 8 minutes. Add squash, carrots, potato, and stock and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, then simmer, partially covered, until vegetables are very tender, about 20 minutes. Remove from heat and cool soup, uncovered, 10 minutes.

Working in batches, puree; soup in a blender until smooth (use caution when blending hot liquids) and transfer to a bowl. Return purée to cleaned pot and thin with water if desired; simmer 3 minutes. Season with salt.

Make pistou while vegetables simmer: Pulse mint, parsley, and scallion in a food processor until finely chopped. With motor running, add oil in a stream, then add water and salt, blending until incorporated.

Swirl 1 tablespoon pistou into each bowl of soup.

* I did not, by the way, even once decide that pistou is an awesome word to say, and even funnier name to call my husband.
** I am lying.

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52 comments on summer squash soup

  1. I am a bit enamored with my immersion blender as well, and thought Julie’s quote was hilarious (although I don’t exactly share her sentiment!)

    It does have it’s way of turning soup making into something far less tiresome and tough. I get way more adventurous when searching through recipes if I think the IB will come in handy.

  2. Pistou IS an awesome word to say but only if you are using a Pepé Le Pew-type over-the-top phony French accent. In fact, doing that makes all sorts of words awesome to say although I notice it quickly wears thin for those listening to the awesome words.

    Your soup looks delicious and I’m kicking myself a little for recently purchasing a regular blender instead of an immersion blender. Dag!

  3. Christine

    I love it! Immersion Blender is what my mom was always referring to when she used the “boat motor”!

    Deb, thanks so much for this site! As a newlywed (June 25) it is comforting to know someone else is finding glory, joy and bliss in cooking!

  4. Dana

    I also got an immersion blender for my wedding. I finally got around to using it. I cannot wait for fall to set in here in the deep South, so I can experiment making velvety soups, but it makes fabulous smoothies! Just whirl together milk, a splenda, and an assortment of fruits. Yummy! I can get some fruits into my husband now!

  5. The immersion blender has suddenly become my new best friend. I got it as a wedding gift a year ago, but only began using it recently. And as they say, I’ve looked back!

  6. This looks delicious! Sweet soups are a strange thing…but always good with a little extra salt. I can handle them in small doses, but especially with a bit of grilled bread of bruschetta: oh yum.

    I’ve been lurking on this and your regular smitten blog and really love both. I came across this little gadget on the internet and figured I had to pass it on:

    Cup A Cake

  7. Amanda

    I just made this soup and it was delicious! The mint and parsley *pistou* (great word btw) really lighten it up and give it a fresh summer taste. I can’t wait to taste it tomorrow because everyone knows 2nd day soup is so much better. Keep those lovely recipes coming!
    <3

  8. Cassandra

    I added silken tofu for protein and flavor as well as all spice, nutmeg, garlic, and carrots. Its was fabulous! I basically added a twist of butternut squash theme to the recipe.

  9. Shannon

    I’m confused– do you add a sweet potato or a regular potato (the ingredients just say yellow fleshed potato)? Also, what extra spices did you use?

  10. tara

    @shannon — sweet potato! if you can find a non-sweet-yellow-fleshed potato, SOMETHING IS WRONG WITH THAT POTATO! (you could probably also use a white-fleshed sweet potato but the yellow/orange ones will contribute more to the prettiness of the soup.)

  11. Michelle

    Mmm…just made this with our recent CSA loot. We’re going to freeze it for winter, but the spoonful I had was delicious! This one’s a keeper!

  12. gail

    Fantastic recipe! I too just purchased an immersion blender, and I have pounds and pounds of yellow summer squash from a local farm. I never know what to do with it. I substituted butternut squash for the sweet potato, because I had that too, and this soup was to die for. The mint pistou is what really puts this over the top. Everyone raved. Thanks for solving a big summer issue — what to do with all that yellow crookneck squash!

  13. gail

    oh, and to answer Tara’s question, I also used olive oil instead of butter and it worked out just fine. Only because we’re dieting…

  14. Lea

    I made this for dinner tonight and served it with turkey, apple, and brie sandwiches. Crazy delicious. I think this falls under the category of a valedictory meal, since it was “summer squash soup”, and yet the whole meal felt deliciously like autumn. I highly recommend it.

  15. Colleen

    I added allspice, nutmeg and a cup of white wine. That cut the sweetness and made for a delicious savory soup! Also, I skipped the pistou and stirred in a a handful of chopped garlic scapes from my garden.

  16. Charlotte

    I added sweet curry and vindaloo spices to mine. It certainly cuts down on the November-leanings the carrots and sweet potato. Absolutely delicious and no thinning needed.

  17. via

    Oh Deb! I just made this and it hit the spot. My only addition was a squeeze of lemon. How is it that the simplest things are always the best?

  18. ej

    the yellow skinned potatoes referred to on the original EPI recipe to a yukon gold, or a creamer potato. always used in the soup pot, they add a creamy texture without the heavy cream. these are also my favorite for mash, but be careful not to overcook as the glutens are quick to get gummy!

  19. I made myself a mental note a few months ago that I should try this soup and today I decided it’s about time, when I looked at the date you originally posted it I notices it was exactly 5 years ago! I guess it is the the right and perfect time for this soup!
    I have a question- in the recipe you call for a yellow-fleshed potato which I first assumed it would be something like a yukan gold, but in the post before the recipe you write about the sweetness of the two carrots and a sweet potato. Reading the comments it seems that most people used sweet potatoes, what did you use a sweet or a regular potato? Thanks!

  20. I made this yesterday- delicious!
    I was concerned that the orange fleshed sweet potato would be too sweet so I used a Japanese white flesh sweet potato which is less sweet and has a drier texture.
    Turned out great with a perfectly balanced mild sweetness to it.

  21. Megan

    Made this today, and it’s awesome!
    I thought yellow-fleshed potato meant an actual yellow potato, like Yukon Gold (I’m Canadian, maybe this is where the confusion happened – do you guys south of the border not have Yukon Golds?)
    ANYway, even with a regular instead of sweet potato, it was still awesome and delicious! I added a little bit of Herbe de Provence towards the end.
    Also, since I am a student and lack a hand blender, I used a hand mixer – you know, the kind with the beaters? It did a pretty decent job of pureeing the vegetables…but there was a lot of splashback. Lesson learned.

    Thanks for the amazing recipe!

  22. Amanda

    This soup is amazing! I’ve made it about 3 times in the past couple weeks for different groups of friends because I want them all to know about it…mmm so good. Plus, at my college I am part of the nutrition club and we chose this recipe to be one of our “dorm demos” to teach residents how to make a delicious fall recipe.

    Each time, I’ve substituted butternut squash for the summer squash and it is amazing =)

  23. Laila

    Oh my goodness! This soup is one of the best I have ever tasted. I was initially a little hesitant because I don’t like squash and thought the flavor of the pistou wouldn’t work, but, it all came together beautifully. This is so creamy and as you eat it, the flavors all blend and pop in your mouth! Absolutely delicious, I wonder what would happen if you splashed in just a little bit of cream . . . :)

  24. machew

    I just made this 2 hours ago!!!!!! I used yellow neck squash out of my garden. I couldn’t even find the yellow or white fleshed potato ya’ll were talking about so i used a cooking pear!! It was the BOMB… i did have to use the bathroom more times than normal after eating. But so worth it very goood!!

  25. Anne

    I just finished making this. It’s awesome! Most of the soups I like involve a good dose of cheese in some form or another and/or heavy cream, so I was a bit hesitant about making this one as it involves neither. However, after blending with my immersion blender to a puree and tasting it… SO GOOD! It almost tastes/feels like a cheese or cream soup even though it’s almost all veggies. Genius!

  26. Kate

    Delicious!!! Made it with a combo of yellow and green summer squash and it was great. Served it with a bit of parmesan cheese on top along with the pistou.

  27. Ana

    This soup is absolutely AMAZING! So delicious, and a fantastic use for all of that squash that came out of my garden. Since I discovered this recipe a month ago I’ve made it 4 times. This will definitely be a go-to recipe for summer squash year after year!

  28. Maude

    Delicious! I did not have mint so made my usual pistou with basil, parsley and shallot. The contrast was nice as well but I will definitely try the mint pistou next time. Thanks Deb!

  29. Kylie

    Another great SK recipe. I can’t believe there is no cream. To keep things interesting I put the pistou in my pastry bag and wrote my kids’ initials in the soup. I’m surprised this healthy, fast and yummy recipe doesn’t have more comments.

  30. Lindsay Keeling

    I made this on a hot summer night in Texas because the ingredient list was short, it looked healthy and I’ve decided to start making soups to simplify my life. It is so very good! I didn’t make the pistou but the soup alone is quite good with just some black pepper.

  31. Dorothy Ann

    It was my 20something son was who introduced me to your site several years ago, I remember the first recipe he baked for us was your Pumpkin Muffins, YUM, I’ve made them the last 2 Saturday mornings! I love being a subscriber, you Deb are so entertaining and inspiring and it’s going to be impossible to wait to open each one immediately.

  32. Victoria

    You mention your immersion blender in the introduction, but the instructions say to work in batches in a regular blender? Am I reading that correctly? I have an immersion blender but never used it. Can one just stick the wand in the pot and blend the whole thing at once? Can a wand be used interchangeably with a regular blender when pureeing pretty much any soup? Thanks Deb!

    1. deb

      Victoria — Yes, batches in a stand-up blender if you don’t have an immersion blender. If you have an immersion blender, you can stick it right in the pot of soup and (carefully!) blend it up. And yes, it can be used interchangeably with a regular blender in any soup, although you’ll never use your regular one again after you see how easy this is. Good luck!

  33. Ruth

    Sorry to be so dense but I’m having trouble figuring out what “yellow summer squash” would be. I’m only familiar with the soft squashes like zucchini, patty pan, etc. Thanks for some variety names!

  34. Lauren

    Does this recipe your a yellow fleshed potato like a Yukon gold or a sweet potato? Can you clarify? Also does this soup freeze well?